Is it iron or old age?

I set out for my ‘long’ run this morning fully motivated and committed to finishing strong. I hit my stride early, picked up a good momentum, and felt like I was floating for the first 35 seconds. Then, for the first time in my life, I felt an unfamiliar tightening in my hamstring. I have never gotten leg cramps during a run or ruck. This was a new sensation and rather sobering. Am I really getting old? Thirty–that’s not even mid-life crisis age! I was able to stretch it and work it out before it fully developed into a cramp, but when I took off again, I was unable to find that same floating rhythm I’d had before. Even still, I gamely ran on, but three-quarters of a mile into my run, I was struggling. I felt like someone had taken all my energy–the same feeling I’d had when I was about four weeks pregnant and all I wanted to do was lay on the couch. Still, I pushed on. This is a mental block, I told myself, and I can push through it. I ran harder as I made the far turn around the lake. But, I couldn’t push through it. Try as I might, I was running slower and slower, and my legs just wouldn’t respond as I urged them to keep moving. And so I walked. The sad thing was, I wasn’t even winded. After a minute or two, I tried again, but I only gained about twenty yards before I was back to walking. What in the world was going on? Less than a week ago, I ran the 3 mile route with no problems. A week ago, I did 30 minutes of tenth-mile sprints. And all this week I’d run various distances with no issues. I started thinking about all the factors that can impact running. I hadn’t been getting a full eight hours of sleep, but then again, I hadn’t had a full eight hours since Carson was born, so I doubted that was the case. I was hydrated–in addition to all the hydration from the night before, I had drank another bottle of water during my commute this morning. And, then, it hit me: iron. Just this morning I had woken up with a large bruise on my thigh, and I didn’t remember doing anything to get it. And, the multi-vitamin I’m taking doesn’t contain any iron. Plus, I’m not eating much in the way of red meat, and let’s be honest: I don’t always get my RDA of iron-rich spinach–even though I do love it.

 I finished the rest of the shortened route with a combination of walking and struggling to run and even managed to give a last hard push up the final hill. This morning, I’m taking an iron supplement. Hopefully next week I’ll have the energy levels I need to power through my workouts. My suggestion to you: if you find yourself tired despite adequate sleep, especially females, try taking an iron supplement–anemia is more of a problem than many of us realize.

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